Test discrepancy forces well retest
Environmental engineers retested this week a domestic water well owned by EnCana for the presence of thermogenic gas.The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission ordered EnCana to have the Dietrich well tested again after a sampling of the well water taken July 22 indicated that it contained thermogenic gas, typically formed thousands of feet underground, said Brian Macke, acting director of the COGCC.An earlier test conducted in April showed the well contained some biogenic gas, which occurs naturally at shallow depths, but not thermogenic gas.The presence of thermogenic gas in domestic well water raises concerns because water-soluble hydrocarbons such as benzene can occur in that type of gas – and benzene can be carcinogenic, Macke said. But so far, no benzene has been found in the Dietrich well. well see page A3well: from page A1″We’re concerned about issues in the Divide Creek area,” said Walt Lowry, EnCana’s director of communications and industry relations. “We care very much about the landowners and environment.”Macke said because of the “very dramatic difference compositionally” between the April and July tests, the COGCC ordered a follow-up test. “The difference could be a result of a sampling or lab error so we ordered another round of testing,” Macke said.Cordilleran Compliance Services Inc., an environmental consulting company in Grand Junction, conducted all of the tests.”They’re independent third-party contractors,” Macke said. “They’re reliable and honest.” Results from Wednesday’s test should be available in a week or two. Nancy Jacobsen, who lives about two or three city blocks from the Dietrich well, is concerned about the results of the July test.EnCana is supposed to keep its gas under control, she said. “You do not want thermogenic gas in your well water.”That’s the reason for a second test, Macke said. “We’re doing these tests as a precautionary measure, because the presence of these hydrocarbons could be dangerous,” he said.In addition, as a precautionary measure, EnCana has been supplying landowners in the Dry Hollow area, including Jacobsen and her husband, Gary Gagne, with bottled water from Mountain Clear in Rifle.Macke said the reason it took two months to the day to conduct a second test was because the COGCC didn’t receive the data on the July test until Sept. 10.”It took awhile to review,” he said. Lowry said EnCana officials didn’t get notice of the test results until Sept. 15, and said it was “a little puzzling” why it took so long.”We always work diligently to be open, honest and forthcoming,” Lowry said. “I don’t think that’ll happen again,” he said about the amount of time it took to get the results back from Cordilleran, react and order a second round of tests. “In the future, we’ll work with Cordilleran to expedite results,” he said.If the second test shows that thermogenic gas has indeed made its way into the Dietrich well, EnCana will receive a notice of alleged violation of state regulations.”I can’t speculate at this point,” Lowry said. If presence of thermogenic gas is confirmed in the well, EnCana would look at specific characteristics of the well and collectively analyze the data with the COGCC and Garfield County officials, he said.This summer, the company received a similar notice because of a gas seep found in West Divide Creek. That violation resulted in a record $371,000 fine, which will be applied to an as-yet-to-be-determined project dealing with gas industry impacts on the area. Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. email@example.comWHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?• Biogenic gas is a naturally occuring gas formed at shallow depths and is a byproduct of organic decomposition. • Thermogenic gas is found thousands of feet deep in mature formations; it’s production gas – the marketable, valuable type of gas that’s drilled for its use as an energy source. It can also contain water-soluble hydrocarbons, such as benzene, that can be carcinogenic.
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